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Vaginal birth information
Best Labor and Birth Positions : An overview of the best (and worst) positions to be in while in labor and how some can make your birth easier - while others can make it harder.

Natural Pain Labor Management: There are other ways to manage pain in labor besides an epidural, and here are some that might help. I personally found that moving - whether walking or pacing - helped a lot. I was a BIG pacer while in labor!

Bathing better than Pethidine as pain relief during labor: Just more confirmation that for many, being in the tub or shower can ease pain just as well as an epidural, without all the unwanted side effects.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of the Epidural : It's important to understand that in some regions of the US, as many as 90 percent of women choose an epidural. The need for an epidural can depend on a number of factors, including your position, the baby's position and your perception of childbirth pain (whether real or imagined, based on the "horror stories" you've heard from others.) If you want pain relief, that's your choice - but know that it can have definite advantages and disadvantages. Not everyone experiences "the worst pain of your entire life" during labor, and some women find that after 32 hours of back labor, it can be a welcome relief in order to help them dilate further. Remember - your experience may depend on a number of things and may not be the same as someone else's. In my experience, it's good to keep an open mind about pain relief, because you may find that you don't need it or that it can be relieved in ways that aren't drug-oriented.

The Myth of the Vaginal Exam : It's common practice for women to be examined frequently during both late pregnancy and while in labor. Sometimes, all it can do is discourage the woman if she's not dilated, or give a false hope that labor will happen soon, when in fact that may not be the case. It's possible to be quite dilated before labor and still go overdue, as well as not be dilated or effaced and suddenly go into labor hours later. Robin Elise Weiss weighs in on this (and many) issues, and I consider her not only a reliable source of information because of her extensive credentials and expertise, but her experience as a mother of eight.

Cervical Exams: Another great source of info from a midwife with lots of experience.

Inductions - It's estimated that around one in four pregnancies are induced. Sometimes, like in the case of maternal or fetal illness or other conditions, it's absolutely necessary to be induced. And it seems like few sources will really come right out and say that both doctors and patients alike push for inductions because of discomfort or scheduling.

Five Reasons to Avoid an Induction of Labor: Robin Elise Weiss goes over some of the not-so-great reasons you might want to avoid an induction of labor.

Reasons to Induce Labor: Many women are told the "baby is big" or "your pelvis is small," which may not even be true. Measurements - both externally and by ultrasound - can be off depending on a number of things, and should not be surefire ways to determine whether or not an induction is necessary.

Cesarean Deliveries Rise Alongside Rate of Induced Labor: In some, especially first-time mothers, having an induction too soon can increase the risk of having a cesarean. Many often feel that their "failure to progress" was really a doctor's "failure to wait" because their bodies simply weren't ready for labor yet.

Labor Induction May Boost C-section Risk: One particular study found that among a group of more than 7,000 first-time mothers who had their babies between 37 and 42 weeks, labor was induced in 43 percent of them, and nearly 40 percent of those inductions were elective. The study found that in the group, "20 percent of the cesareans were attributed to the induction, whether elective or not." In contrast, in 1990 less than ten percent of women were induced. The study also alarmingly found that in some mothers - 30 percent - the cervix was not "sufficiently ready" and some were electively induced as early as 37 weeks, which directly opposes ACOG's guidelines on elective inductions of labor.

Another concern with Pitocin and labor induction is the Pit to Distress phenomenon. While some adamantly deny that this goes on in American hospitals, (and probably outside the US) others - including care givers - have very different opinions. Essentially the idea is to administer more than the recommended starting dose of Pitocin in order to jumpstart labor and get the baby delivered sooner. It often produces harder, stronger contractions that deprive the baby of oxygen, necessitating a cesarean. There are some very compelling stories that suggest this is a very real problem.

A Senseless Death: The Birth Sense blog talks about the recent death of a mother during her fourth cesarean, due to, among other things, the placenta growing through the old scar site. Although rare, complications from the surgery itself, as well as past cesarean surgeries, can still be problematic - even fatal - especially as we see the rate of surgical births continue to rise.

Your OB (or Midwife) Still Does What? Pitocin Rate : This nurse midwife (the same one I referenced about unnecessary and pointless cervical exams) talks about how to be more of a patient advocate if the baby does go into distress while Pit is being administered.

Why The Last Few Weeks of Pregnancy Count : Like any other woman, you're probably sick of being pregnant and want the baby out immediately. Learn how the baby's brain finishes crucial development even until the 39th week of pregnancy.

Episiotomy: When It's Needed and When It's Not : What once was considered routine - and still is, sadly, by many - is now going by the wayside of pubic hair shaving and enemas. Studies have shown that the majority of episiotomies are unnecessary and that they can actually cause more pelvic floor damage than prevent it. If you don't want one, make it a priority to express your wishes before and during labor - because sometimes caregivers will simply do one without even asking you.

Episiotomy: Is it better to tear or be cut?  Certified nurse midwife Peg Plumbo shares the ways to minimize tearing and keep the perineum intact during birth.

Cesarean Birth:
If you have to have a cesarean birth, it can be a very emotional time for some. For others, it's not a big deal. Whether it's "emergent," or elective, it should be taken seriously and not just seen as "another way to have your baby," because it is major surgery and involves risks. For some, it's the best thing - and for others, it's not.

Elective cesarean: There is a lot of controversy over this, mainly because a lot of people either have one to schedule the birth or avoid the pain of labor. Speaking from experience, it can be painful. The recovery is longer than a typical vaginal birth, and means limitations like no stairs, driving or lifting for weeks afterwards. There is always the risk that with too much activity, you can reopen the wound. Because of the casual attitudes towards cesareans today, I think some people fail to realize the risks involved when saying they want a cesarean without any clear indication for it.

Risks of a cesarean procedure: It's important to consider, especially if you want a large family, how your birth will affect the delivery of each child you plan to have. Once you have a c-section, it can change the way you give birth in the future, should you decide to have any more children. It can also pose a greater risk of future pregnancy complications.

The benefits of having a cesarean are that it can be done fairly quickly in the event of an emergency. It is also a viable option for those suffering from emotional trauma due to past sexual abuse, or if there is a history of pelvic abnormality or injury.

Safety of VBAC : For many, after a cesarean a VBAC can be perfectly safe, even though your friends, family and doctors have told you it isn't. ACOG has now released guidelines that VBAC can be a safe alternative to cesarean for many women, even some who have already had two prior cesareans.

Due Date for VBAC: Not an Expiration Date 
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean: A Good Idea?
Support after a Cesarean: International Cesarean Awareness Network


The Perils of (Bad Reporting on) Home Birth
Should American Women Learn to Give Birth at Home?
What's So Scary About Home Birth?